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Once the problem of heresy had been identified and an action plan put in place it became apparent that there were other problems. The obstinance of the Jewish and Islamic religions could cause heresy to raise its head in other forms. Who was in charge of Cluny when this triumvirate of problems, heresy, otherness and obstinence were to be dealt with?


Peter the Venerable


Peter the Venerable was elected Abbot of Cluny in 1122 A.D.. Peter was thirty years old at the time and appeared to be more benevolent than others of the time. He also had completed some original work by translating the Islamic Koran and had a limited understanding of the Jewish Talmud. Peter first attacked the five heresies of Peter of Bruis; “Rejection of infant baptism, non-acceptance of consecrated places, denial of reverence of the cross, general denial of all eucharists and uselessness of funeral piety.” Peter the Venerable wrote a brief tract against these heresies and followed it with two equally brief tracts against Judaism and Islam. The witnesses who would sign such a list would be much like the witnesses of any legal document; those who had read the tracts and vouched for its content. The manuscript witness list was, like the tracts themselves, small.

How, then, did three small tracts with equally small witness lists end up with such a wide and powerful audience? The answer to that question most likely can be answered by looking at the constituency of the Cluny and its 1,000 orders found throughout Europe. Peter the Venerable was himself drawn from a majestic pool of people. Peter was born in Auvergne, France in 1092 A.D.. He was the son of Maurice, Lord of Montboisier. A brother of Peter’s was a prior of Cluny. Three other brothers were ecclesiastics. Many second and third sons of royal families also joined the order at Cluny.


France Cathedrals


The monetary resources and family ties pushed the Cluny to new heights of power. Additionally, the 1,000 Cluniac houses throughout Europe gave ears and tongues to the tracts that were issued from Cluny.


Tomorrow: Innocent Popes

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